Sunday, August 29, 2010

Transforming Wellness and Wholeness

By Cara Page

This article is part of inciteblog's Reflections from Detroit series. Cara Page describes the work of organizing for healing justice and liberation at the US Social Forum.

To read the entire article, click here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Best Thing I Did at APA

- by Stacey Prince

Well, some of the best things I did at APA* were personal—spending time with old friends and new, jogging by the marina in the cool ocean breeze, watching batters hit home runs at the Padres game. But the best thing I did professionally was to attend Laura Brown’s Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) Presidential Address. As many of you know, Laura is a psychologist, supervisor, teacher and author in Seattle. I believe she is one of the most innovative, prolific and committed psychologists around. Her many accomplishments include being the foremother of Feminist Therapy, battling the false memory movement in order to have the truths of her trauma survivor clients be heard, and recently creating the Fremont Community Therapy Project, which offers high quality, low fee assessment and psychotherapy to individuals with limited means as well as outstanding, social justice oriented training to pre- and post-doctoral psychology trainees.

In addition to all of these stellar accomplishments, Laura recently took on the challenge of being President of APA’s Division of Trauma Psychology, and on August 14 I attended her presidential address. In a packed room of current and former students, supervisees, colleagues and trauma psychologists, Laura began by saying that at an earlier time in her career she had utopian visions of being able to eradicate trauma simply by telling the truth about its existence: “I did not want us to need a Division of Trauma Psychology”. She also asserted that abuse exists and persists because it is supported by systemic inequities that are much bigger and more difficult to change than is the behavior of individuals. But then she went further, and challenged us as trauma therapists to think about the relationship between our livelihoods and social injustice. “This field of ours, trauma psychology, requires the presence of social injustice in order for us to exist. That’s a problem. That’s a fact about which we need to do something, because we need more justice.” This was so uncomfortable to think about, yet it rang so true, it couldn’t be ignored.

* APA is the American Psychological Association, and this was their annual convention, held this year in San Diego, CA.

To read entire article click here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Good Gay Day

- by Stacey Prince

During the first week of August I was in Long Beach, CA at a training for VA mental health professionals who are learning an evidence based approach to treating relationship distress called Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy. I’m one of the consultants on the project, which is part of a larger rollout of empirically validated treatments for a variety of veteran issues including PTSD, depression, family conflict and relationship distress. As a consultant on the project I will be providing phone supervision to the therapists, who are from VA hospitals and Vet Centers around the country. Prior to the training, I asked the organizers if same-sex couples would be treated as part of the project. Despite Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender veterans (primarily not active duty, for obvious reasons) and their families have traditionally sought mental health treatment at VA’s. These numbers will likely increase as DADT is likely to be repealed as soon as this Fall.

I was told by the project coordinators that yes, the therapists would be working with same-sex couples, and they then asked me to prepare a talk on the topic to be added to the week-long training schedule. This felt like a small victory—both that same-sex couples would be included, and that material on issues of importance to LGB clients and couples would be presented. Unfortunately, because the week’s programming was already set, my talk was squeezed in to the lunch hour during one of the training days. This felt somewhat marginalizing (for example, people had to choose between taking a break in the middle of a long day and coming to my talk) and a few participants noted that. The organizer did arrange for box lunches to be delivered, which helped a lot.

To read entire article click here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's Missing from Gay Pride?

- by Tim Popanz

Sometimes I need to step away from an experience for a time in order to gain perspective. In the moment, my feelings can become jumbled like some type of word puzzle and meaning doesn’t show through. Such was the case this year with Gay Pride.

I have been celebrating Gay Pride in one form or another for almost 25 years. In the beginning, the experience was a revelation: the shear breadth, diversity of experiences, and history felt remarkable (at some level they still do). As a young Gay man, there was both this sense of carrying on the tradition started after Stonewall and a feeling of complete public honesty of who I am. To experience both this responsibility and freedom with my community was exhilarating.

The Gay community is one also marked by trauma. First, there’s the collective, generational trauma of oppression, which expresses itself, in part, in disproportioned rates of mental illness and substance abuse. Added on to these experiences have been the losses associated with AIDS. As an adult Gay man, I’ve never known a world or a new sexual encounter without the threat of HIV transmission. To implicitly link sexual intimacy life-long with illness and premature death is anxiety producing in and of itself.

Even with these experiences, most of the Gay community responds with resiliency. This is the primary experience anyone would see participating with Gay Pride. But, under the surface there is a more complicated ritual going on. Which brings me to my question: what’s missing from Gay Pride?

To read entire article click here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Media Justice, Therapy Justice - and Puerto Rico

By Liz Goodwin

A few weeks ago I was invited to join a media justice delegation to Puerto Rico with the Center for Media Justice, based in Oakland, CA. This organization’s mission is to “create media conditions that end racism, eliminate poverty, and advance human rights.” They work on issues of media access and ownership and intersect with progressive movements with communication strategy and action. Key initiatives further these goals like one of their main projects, MAG-Net, that focuses on the “critical use and transformation of media communication systems” with a local-to-local network of social justice, media and cultural organizations.

One of the objectives of the trip was to connect with local media on the Island. We met with one of the organizers for the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) student strike that recently ended and with Radio Huelga, the radio station established by the students to communicate speedily about the strike. The students at UPR said their main goals were to stop the Administration from privatizing campuses and from raising tuition. Their strike was unique, they shared with us, in that it was: grassroots, consensus-based, and submerged in technology. With constant stream of news and communication through Radio Huelga, as well as twitter, facebook and other social networks, they adopted the slogan: media not violence. They threw flowers at the police as they tried to squelch their demonstrations and rewired makeshift internet operations when the Administration attempted to cut off their access. They aired all day and night on the radio with everything from soap operas to latest news about the strike. They structured their large group by gates, representing fields in the University, like Humanities Gate, Communications Gate, etc. Each gate made decisions by consensus. In the larger assemblies, they voted democratically, by show of hands. At one point, the students shut down ten campuses across the Island and they won a long list of victories.

The rest of our time was spent at the beach, road tripping around the Island, attempting to find our way around, and tasting Puerto Rican food. Mofongo is just one example of the local food we tried – made with mashed plantains, garlic and pork cracklings. Delicious. Humacao was our home base, on the Eastern coast of the Island. It took just a few hours to realize that the Island is stunning – lush, green, magnificent in color and culturally unique. Even as I know Puerto Rico is unincorporated U.S. territory, that there is a rich revolutionary history, and an ongoing fight for independence, it is different to be there, talk with folks, see it with my own eyes.

To read entire article click here.